No we are not talking about The Talk, CBS’s popular daytime talk show. Remember back to when you were a teenager and you knew one of these days ‘the talk” might happen. Back then it was about the birds and the bees.
Now you have aged, (and so have your parents), it may be time again for “the talk.” This time it is you who may be initiating the talk, and not about human anatomy, this time it is about moving granny!
Often you will see the changes happening to parents as they age, changes that they may not notice, or admit to noticing. Perhaps physical limitations present challenges keeping the house tidy. Sometimes it is a case where the body is willing but the mind is not.
When you think it may be time for your parent (or parents) to move to an assisted care or extended care facility – it is time for “the talk.”
One of the tough things in life is to admit you are not as capable as you once were. There is usually a strong attachment to places where you are familiar, like the home you have lived in for many years. The neighbourhood where you know all the stores, your doctor’s office is not far away, and if I need to stop into the bank it’s just around the corner.
A departure from that environment can be unsettling to traumatic. Your discussion must respect this mindset. You will want to have examples in hand to support your suggestion to consider relocating, and you will want to present your arguments in an objective and supportive way. In some case these discussions will be very difficult and might have to happen a number of times. You could be fortunate, the talk might open up the discussion that your parent was reluctant to have, but they may feel a weight has been lifted off their shoulders, and they are ready to take the next step.
We can probably think of situations where the aging parent didn’t want to talk about moving until something happens and they have to move. A fall, dementia, a stroke, can all necessitate a move with little advance notice. And there lies the challenge. When do you have ‘the talk?’ Sometimes it is best to bring it up in a small way and not push the point. “Mom, how are you coping with everything these days?” Then sit back and listen intently. Don’t jump on “clues” but be patient, understanding and invite more conversation. Look for the feelings, not so much the hard facts.
At the risk of sounding like we are preaching to the choir, a guiding principle is to maintain their dignity by being supportive and honest.